The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

Seif Qadhafi teaches us a lesson

The pic above (via FLC) must be the biggest double-take of recent times. After all, not only had the TNC and the (more unforgiveably) the ICC confirmed Seif's capture, but apparently he's free to roam Tripoli in his motorcade and drop by for a chat with journalists at the Rixos. Chapeau!

I suppose this shows (as does the continuing street warfare in Tripoli) that enthusiasm about the fall of Tripoi was premature. It also shows what anyone who has followed the Libyan civil war, no matter how supportive of the rebels, has known about them for a whiie: they are notoriously unreliable. It may be out of malice or simply because they seem so disorganized, but they hardly have a good track record. I hope the transitional government gets better about this.

Some on Twitter suggests that tweeps should have been more careful repeating the report of Seif's arrest and other rumors. Actually, I think that's secondary, and many of the people who were most followed for news about Libya, such as Andy Carvin, kept asking again and again for proof and corroboration. The record corrected itself fairly fast, and whatever psychological bonus might have been gained by the false information has surely now been damaged by Seif's resurfacing. Consider this in the NYT's coverage:

While rebel leaders professed to be making progress in securing Tripoli and planning for a post-Qaddafi government, and international leaders hailed the beginnings of a new era in Libya, the immediate aftermath of the lightning invasion was a vacuum of power, with no cohesive rebel government in place and remnants of the Qaddafi government still in evidence.

Seif al-Islam el-Qaddafi, whose capture the rebels had trumpeted since Sunday, walked as a free man to the Qaddafi-controlled luxury Rixos Hotel in the center of Tripoli early Tuesday, boasting to foreign journalists there that his father’s government was still “in control” and had lured the rebels into a trap, the BBC and news services reported. His appearance raised significant questions about the credibility of rebel leaders.

I guess much of the world has been schooled by Seif: truth remains the first casualty of war.